Culture in Decline – Episode #2 – Economics 101

Culture in Decline – Episode #2 – Economics 101


– Modest preemptive actions
can obviate the need of more drastic actions
at a later date. – You think that you’ve been taught
things like confidence intervals in an elementary statistical course
that would let you do this; but if you really
studied carefully, you’d know that they
don’t let you do this. A really principled frequentist can’t
produce a probability distribution… – The conclusion we want to point out
when we think about valuation is the fact that means are scarce.
I alluded to this already that as finite beings we can’t will
our ends to be attained. – A statistical description of the
government’s net-of-interest surplus. – …deflation, I think that yields
could drop to say, less than 1% on the 10 years and less
than 2% on the 30 years… – …that would effectively be a takeover of
monetary policy by the Congress.
– Oh, hello! Daunting, right?
Might even make you feel stupid. Perhaps it’s no wonder then, while even with the ongoing
economic failures across the world: inequality, increasing
poverty, debt collapse, bank failures,
unemployment rising, very few today seem to
be able to understand, let alone discuss,
modern economics, outside, of course,
the delegation game where the only attempted
solutions people know is the mere shifting around of
the deck chairs on the Titanic, assuming some new politician, central
bank policy, or corporate legislation is going to save the day. Some years back, after coming to the
conclusion that our politicians, legislators, and established authorities
just might be provably incompetent when it comes to the truly intelligent
management of our society, I started to look for questions
and answers on my own, asking those questions about things that many today either seem to take
for granted, ignore or even worse, assume that they have no capacity
or business investigating at all, since our credentialed
authorities in control must be smarter, more informed. It’s a sad staple of
modern culture, you know, the old “Relax, turn on the
TV, keep going into debt, and pump out a bunch of
kids while you’re at it,” but most importantly,
keep showing up at those jobs which you have likely already
fooled yourself into believing serve some legitimate social role. Remember, the 1% of the world
that owns 40% of the planet’s wealth did not get that way with you
understanding how the world really works. Nevertheless, and such
cynicism aside (I’m sorry), I decided that I
needed to start again, if you will, and ask some
fundamental questions about stuff most have simply
written off and forgotten. If you were to take a poll today of
our species, asking what truly are the most fundamental questions that
pertain to human survival and prosperity, such as, I don’t know, what really
supports human life, how food grows, what energy is, what creates and
reinforces good public health, what defines a useful or
detrimental belief system, you can rest assured, that the vast
majority would have more concrete answers about baseball statistics, fashion trends,
sitcom plots, and religious scriptures. Not to demean the cultural pleasures
and creativity of expression that creates enjoyment in this life, but we have a distortion of priority
that has proven incredibly detrimental to the future of our sustainability
on this planet, where the majority facing
clear mounting problems not only doesn’t understand what the
root of such problems really are, they don’t even know
what questions to ask; and today, there is no greater
destructive ignorance at hand, than the vastly delusional concept
known as modern economics. It is in this fundamental context
that I found the most interest. What is an economy? Where does its foundational
premise come from? What are we relating to exactly? How is societal organization
finding a benchmark for itself? Is there a benchmark?
What are we doing? Why does the discussion of this
subject appear to be so elitist in its vocabulary and orientation?
Is it really that complicated? I became so tired of being
called ignorant of the subject by self-proclaimed
experts I’ve challenged, I decided to take it upon
myself to read the entire macro-economics curriculum
of Harvard University from the undergraduate
to the PhD level, along with all the staples of influence:
F.A. Hayek, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises; and I’ll tell
you what, I’m really glad I did because I had some very poor
judgments that needed correction, not so much regarding my
views about economics, but that life is short,
and I wasted an enormous, unforgivable amount of time
reading this outdated, overly-intellectualized gibberish. [Glass Breaking] Ah, shit! Bob, would you take care of that please?
The fuse panel. Be careful man, it’s not…
[Explosion][Bob screaming] As the following
episode will detail, modern economics is not
true economics at all. It’s a mere ideological philosophy,
built upon a series of presuppositions that have been given the
illusion of permanence. There is absolutely no relationship
to the scientific integrity of our knowledge of the environment
built into this model. The monetary-market system
of religious belief is at the core of the vast majority
of ecological and social imbalance we see in the world today. Sadly, it is in the face of
normality, so many look past it. We might begin to see that this
principal notion and practice is truly a problem in
society, and to me, it is at the heart of
a culture in decline. Earth: Curious little ball of
rock, gas and water, isn’t it? Hard to believe this little bubble of
chemical elements floating in space, basically powered by the sun,
could give rise to our colorful, yet rather troubling
super-monkey species, a species often appearing pretty serious
in its interest to destroy its habitat, though I should say pretty serious
in its interest to destroy itself. – What is democracy? – It’s got something to do with young
men killing each other, I believe. – Excuse me a second.
Bob, what the hell was that? The cut away, it wasn’t funny.
It was just depressing. Couldn’t you find some guy shooting a
bottle rocket out of his ass or something? You know what our demographic is
and the point of the show, right? Okay, well please. Anyway, perhaps our
immaturity is just a phase, a tragically comedic rite of passage, no different than children
that need to be burned by a hot stove in order to
realize they shouldn’t touch it, or what the physics
behind it may be. Nevertheless, the history and
characteristics of this little orb can be scientifically described
with a good deal of accuracy: A couple of billion years old now,
a composite of gas and dust that resulted mostly from
a large chemical reaction long ago, likely an exploding
star or supernova; and over millions of years this dust clustered
into relatively big chunks of rock, a pronounced gravitational
field emerged, our chemical elements
were slowly reorganized, and conditions emerged to
enable water and an atmosphere, which is what bred the first
single-celled organisms; and so went the slow
process of mutation into the very amusing
circumstance we have today: us. Of course, you are free to believe
whatever creation story you like: a rib from Adam, alien cross
pollination, primordial ooze. At the end of the day, the utility
of such knowledge is quite small. In fact, our little
monkey brains might never have a complete
picture of something so complex. Yet what we do know is that the
universe is governed by laws, not moral or religious laws,
but laws that were around long before we ever evolved
a brain to understand them. Laws that very clearly point out
that we either adapt to them and respect them, or we
suffer the consequences. Such is the true face of God:
the Laws of Nature. In many ways, the
history of our universe is the history of our
understanding of it, and we have come a
long way as a species with respect to how we organize
our lives around these rules. Likely the best example
of this adaptation, or in many ways lack thereof,
is how we think about economy, the foundation of our social survival. Many thousands of years ago,
our super-monkey brethren began to discover how to engage nature. We went from being completely
at the mercy of the habitat, gathering our food
with some hunting, living and migrating around the
natural seasonal regeneration, to an agricultural revolution,
learning how to cultivate food, create ever [more] sophisticated
tools to ease labor and in effect, learn how
to mimic nature itself. In fact, this new awareness and
ever-increasing understanding to harness the processes
of nature to our advantage is what has led to the vast
technological innovation we see today. If nature is doing something,
odds are we can understand how through these dynamic scientific principles,
from artificial intelligence today which works to emulate actual
neurological processes, to molecular engineering
which uses the atomic logic to manually recreate material objects. And now, ever-important blood
shifting erectile dysfunction drugs, which if you have being
watching TV recently, must be the most epidemic health
crisis in the Western world today. Since this revolution, human
society became less nomadic, slowly merging into cities, and systems of labor
specialization began to rise along with means for exchange.
Barter is a common example. You need some eggs?
Maybe give some firewood you chopped up in exchange for the
dairy farmer’s work. Yet, such practices became cumbersome
and impractical after a while; so the idea of using
some rare fancy rocks, like gold and silver as a medium of
exchange, eased these transactions through a system of pricing goods
in terms of their relative value. This gave birth to what we know today
as the adjustable price system which, through the public’s aggregate
patterns of exchange and production, creates a crude, yet
semi-workable logic where the prices of goods reflect
the balance of supply and demand, otherwise known as the market or market value.
Let me explain. When you stumble into the mall
and buy the 85th generation iPoop 4G mp3 colostomy-bag
camera phone waffle maker, you are creating economic signal information
that is used to calculate demand, local and regional preferences,
and other resulting data in concert with the millions
of other impulsive consumers who, having also likely
bought the 84th generation just two months prior
for twice the price, creates an aggregate flow
of input data and feedback that allows for an ostensibly rational
regulation of resource allocation, production, distribution, labor
requirements, and of course price consensus in the market based
on perceived supply and demand, not to mention the general
data of how the marketing team can screw you over
even more later on. This mechanism is partly
what the ultimate high priest of our current economic religion,
Adam Smith, was alluding to with his ‘invisible hand’ notion
of causality in the free market. And in many ways he
was on to something. It does work in a limited
context and a crude way. In fact, in the 1920’s an economist
named Ludwig von Mises put forward the still high-standing claim
that without the price mechanism economic calculation and
rational resource allocation and general organization
would be impossible. He called it ‘The Economic
Calculation Problem’. However things are much different
today than they were 200 years ago when Adam Smith published
his ‘Wealth of Nations’ or when Ludwig von Mises made his
criticism of central planning. The fact is the argument has changed.
The economic debate now is what is actually sustainable and
progressive for the human species, not to mere mechanics of
the movement of the money. While it is true the
price system might allow for the basic calculation
of supply and demand data, to help rationally allocate labor,
preference, distribution and the like, it ignores the real
operational factors that relate to true,
efficient earthly management hence the true
definition of economy which is:
optimized efficiency on all levels. For instance, there is no consideration
for optimum resource allocation based on the material’s
most efficient purpose. Rational allocation of
resources is not rational if the most conducive use of those
natural materials, scientifically, is not directly considered and
brought into comparison. [REJECTED] There is no consideration for
the organizational efficiency of technical production itself,
and all you have to do is analyze the waste machine of globalization
to see this insanity at work. There is also no consideration for
regeneration needs or recycling protocols: a true requirement for responsible
rational resource use on a finite planet, nor is there any true production
or distribution efficiency in any optimized
scientific sense as such a means is, as will be
described more so in a moment, also counter to the inherent logic
of the market system itself. These, coupled with many
other serious parameters needed for a truly efficient economy,
are simply ignored or, even worse, assumed to be inherent to the
price mechanism’s function when they clearly are not. You see, the price mechanism’s
concept of efficiency translates the subjective
mass interaction of consumers into the narrow assessments of regional
demand, production and distribution. It has nothing to do with how or why the
methods of industry are what they are. Such factors are left up to
the whim of the producers operating for profit alone,
completely decoupling from the natural regulation of
scientific principles of sustainability. Aww, man! You see, at the core of
‘The Economic Calculation Problem’ is really the argument that
we are completely irrational, that we can’t possibly be organized in
a way that is structurally efficient; we are too insane, essentially. Therefore, we have to have
a general economic anarchy to organize our society and
there’s no other way around it. (*Bullshit!*) Again, today is very different than
it was prior, and a quick review of modern computer programming
and systems engineering will tell you that not only can
the algorithmic intelligence of our sensory and measurement
technology today, coupled with synergistic
computer calculation, orient all the previously existing
factors taken into account by the price mechanism
as we know it, the truly relevant yet missing
factors for optimal efficiency and sustainability could be
brought into the equation. This would be the making of a true
economic calculation for industry, not the crude truncated data
put forward by price alone. So, coming back to our
household, the Earth, what is this thing really? It’s a system,
a system of symbiotic laws. At the core of all
principles of sustainability is recognition of the largest order
system we can find, for reference. The price mechanism on the other…
[crash] Bob, what was that? Jesus Christ, Louie! Bob, why didn’t you tell
me Louie was here already? Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special
guest here on Culture in Decline, our local logic guru,
Louie-the-Logic Gremlin. Louie has a severe impatience for
anything illogical, and he works to… OK. Bob, you’ve got to get the goddamn
Demo-Publican back in his cage or Louie is going to freak out…
Oh, shit! Cut the camera! Sorry about that ladies and gentlemen.
As I mentioned, Louie here gets a little frustrated
when it comes to anything illogical and the Demo-Publican is
sort of his mortal enemy. Anyway, Louie, since we have you here,
I want to ask you a few questions. Is the free market actually a good basis for sustainability
for the human species? Well, what about infinite
wants and human needs? How do we calculate
such complexity? Thank you very much Louie,
I appreciate that. Well, there you have it, folks. However, logic aside, opinions about our
economic system range dramatically. So, to gain some public consensus
on the issue, we now go live to our New York ‘Culture
In Decline’ correspondent, Big Scotty D, who is
live on Wall Street. Thank you, Peter. This is Scotty D, in
front of the New York Stock Exchange. Today we’re here
in New York City just to try to talk to some people on
the street and find out a little bit about what’s going on in the
world perception of economics. Culture In Decline:
Man On the Street Sir, do you want to
talk about the economy? Would you like to talk
about the economy? Would you like to talk
about the economy? I really suck at this, but I don’t think people want
to talk about economy either. However, there was one guy who
was willing to talk to me. – What do you feel is the
definition of economics? Standing here in front of Wall
Street, I’m just curious. What do you think economics is? – Well, I would say that
economics is, is really just just based on money, the
things that’s going on, you know, from over
here by Wall Street. It’s just money that
makes the system … generate throughout NY city and
for everybody in the world. But it’s just mainly a money thing,
which makes the world go round. I know what you are thinking.
You’re thinking “What is this guy talking about?!” But in reality, he probably
knows as much about economics as I know about interviewing
people on the street. And, seems like most of us really don’t know what the
economy is all about anyway. Back to you, Peter.
*Man On The Streets* Is it me or have
you noticed that there is more for sale in
the world than ever before, and I’m not referring to
goods in your local store. Today, the market
rationale is that everything is for sale
and nothing is sacred. Need some cash? Why don’t you rent out
your forehead to commercial advertising? Or better yet, why don’t you
buy the life insurance policy of your elderly neighbor,
and when she dies you can get nice payout?
Yep, it’s legal! Or maybe it’s the little
things that make you happy. So, rather than put that
blow-up doll in your car to use the car pool
lane (hehehehe), just buy it, like you
can in Minneapolis. Or maybe you have an itch to slaughter
that endangered black rhino in Africa. Well, you can.
Costs you about $150,000, but hey, it’s there. ‘150, boy, I can’t wait
to eat that rhino!’ Or more seriously, maybe your kids
are not excelling well in school. Well, the market has a solution.
Pay them! Pay them to read and get good grades,
like they do in Dallas, Texas. But perhaps that is overkill, because
by the time they hit college age most prestigious universities will
look the other way for admission once a nice hefty donation is
made for that new library wing. Want to serve your country,
but are tired of all those pesky UN war rules and poor pay? Just join the growing legion of
private military contractors who are slowly replacing the
US military in general. Or how about love? Need a date, but don’t want
to wade through all the fog? Women will now go on dates with the
highest bidder on some dating sites. Forget chatting, just fork
out a couple hundred bucks to entice the woman of your choice
to allow you to pay for her dinner. I am sure it will be a
long lasting relationship. Or perhaps most important, does your business need a law
passed to secure profits? Well, just hire a lobbyist
to influence Congress! As the prior episode of
Culture In Decline denoted, there is nothing in the
political and legal spectrum that is not clearly for sale. In fact, why do you think the
court system allows most offenses to be cleared with
monetary funds? But even if you do something really
bad and you are stuck in jail don’t fret, because
in some cases you can about pay 80 bucks
a night for a nice upgrade to a clean quiet jail cell in
a nice area of the prison. You name it, you can buy
it, and nothing is sacred. 143 years after the passage of the
13th Amendment of the US Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the UN’s
Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the
slave trade worldwide, there are today more slaves
than anytime in human history, trafficking about 30 million
for various profit schemes. But, what about ethics,
you might ask? Well, what about it?
Ethics and morality continue to be redefined by the
economic ethos of the day, and when a Wall Street trader
makes millions of dollars betting against the currency and
hence prosperity of another country, I can assure you he is
sleeping like a baby at night, and why shouldn’t he?
He is simply doing what is rewarded and reinforced by the
economic system-at-large. The market’s inherent psychology has nothing to do with anything
except its own perpetuation. When you hear politicians tell you that
they are invading some poor country to bring freedom and democracy, you need to understand what
those words really imply. The freedom they bring
is market freedom, and the democracy that they bring is
the democracy of purchasing power: the freedom of using
money for influence, the freedom to, in fact,
restrict the freedom of others. However, let’s get back
to this technical stuff. Putting aside the distortion
of market rationale that now puts
everything for sale, putting aside the false premise
that the price mechanism actually properly calculates
the true attributes of a sustainable and
efficient economic practice, and putting aside the basic
value system disorder radiating out of the overall
basis of unfolding, let’s now take a little quiz.
Welcome to modern Economics 101. Question 1: If you
lived on a planet with finite resources and
an expanding population, would you encourage an economy based
on the need for growth and consumption to keep everything going? Correct answer: No. The fact that our economy literally
requires constant consumption and growth to keep GDP afloat
and people employed is the hallmark of not an
economy, but an anti-economy. Question 2: If you
were a producer would you make goods to be as
durable and adaptable as possible given the finite nature of resources in an interest to maximize
labor productivity? Answer: Yes.
Today it’s the opposite, and not only are all goods
inferior the moment they are made due to the cost-efficiency needs for
corporations to remain competitive, most companies also engage in what
is called planned obsolescence which deliberately reduces good quality
to encourage repeat purchases for more profit. Question 3: If you were a
socio-economic planner, would you encourage everyone
to buy one of everything, hoarding that personal
property, protectively, even though many goods
are used infrequently? Answer: No.
That would be inefficient. The reality that goods are only as
relevant as their use would be realized and hence a system
of shared access, not blind restrictive
universal ownership, would be the most rational
manner of unfolding. Question 4: What
about incentive? Would you push a cut-throat,
competititve environment where everyone it is out for
themselves or their little group? Correct answer: No.
Knowing what we know today about the competitive mentality
and how it creates abuse, along with the reality that collaboration
and the sharing of information is truly the driver of
progress on the social level, competition would be seen as the
most limiting of arrangements as a philosophical practice. Question 5: What would be
the basis for reward today? Would you require every human to
submit to each other for labor as to achieve the
means for survival? No. That would be crude
and counter-productive, given the state of technology. Modern technical capacity has the
ability to increase productivity beyond anything known
in human history, not to mention secure more safety
and efficiency in general. To push human labor for income in the face of this tool for
vast improvement is just absurd. Final thoughts: If we were to
take a step back and reflect upon how our human family is behaving
across the world today, from Western materialism
to Islamic extremism, from nuclear war to necrophilia, we are faced with a dark, yet
extremely entertaining reality. The very real fact [is] that
we are monkeys in the wild, barely out of the
jungle on this planet in the words of the late,
great George Carlin, inching out of the
Dark Ages, in fact, from a period of deep fear and
confusion with respect to who we are, what we are doing, how
we relate to each other, not to mention how we relate to
the habitat that spawned us. On one side of the spectrum we have
a vast spectacle of human conceit: stubborn ignorance, so much
so that if you are like me, sometimes you wonder why
we should try at all. That maybe this species
deserves everything it gets and its fate as an
evolutionary cul-de-sac, a failed genetic mutation, might be
an ideal hope for this universe. Cynicism aside however, it’s easy to see that there is a
growing change in the minority which will slowly become
majority if we let it. An awakening is
happening, an awakening where people have stopped
imposing their traditional ideals and various ideological
baggage on the world, and instead are
starting to listen, listening to what the tools of
our ingenuity have afforded us, listening to the message
of nature itself. If there is any context which
needs a serious intervention with respect to the natural
laws that govern us, if there is any context where we
need to simply pay attention, prepare to drop all of our prior
assumptions and change accordingly, it is in the economic context. Economics is not just some
arbitrary abstraction for processing and
distributing resources. It is an underlying value molder that
programs us into modes of behavior that extend into all
areas of our psychology. It is the active global religion
whether people like it or not, and for those of us that wish to
see reason triumph over dogma, we have a long, long road ahead. Advocates of the free-market
model of economics will tell you that there is no other system
possible to calculate society, that the competitive
basis is the only way to incentivize our
primitive culture. They will tell you that reduced
economic interference of government is the key to preserving the true
integrity of the market economy and also preserve our
so-called liberty, which they say would
be quickly corrupted as tyranny and
oppression must occur if any type of collaborative, designed
economic practice was applied. They talk of the
‘true’ free market: a utopian ideal that
claims the invisible hand, if allowed to run without interference,
would alleviate the poverty, deprivation, abuse, corruption,
conflict and inefficiency so common in the world today. Well, as with all religions,
delusion is common, because today the market is
actually more free than ever with the state being nothing
more than a parent corporation working to assist its commercial
subsidiaries which support it. Everything is for sale, and
no one is accountable. All natural laws and physical realities
that would comprise the basis for true technical
earthly efficiency and awareness and reasoning
that, if allowed, can literally transform
the world into a place with vast abundance and
prosperity never before seen, have been buried and dismissed, only to be overshadowed by a
certain kind of efficiency, market efficiency, an efficiency
that tracks money and money alone, an efficiency that is
literally decoupled from everything that supports
and secures life itself, an efficiency that is
circular in its reasoning as it has no recognition of
the physical laws of nature, the laws of nature, which are, in
fact, the only real true government and regulatory system that
has or will ever exist. But then again, who
is to say it matters? Maybe we should all
just take it in stride. Maybe this reality
show of humankind, this satirical tragic parody
of itself, to be sure, doing all it knows, maybe
this is the way it is and our brains, our
genes are messed up, and we are just waiting
for the final laugh track when Spaceship Earth slams into
that psychological brick wall. I guess time will tell. And until then, sit
back, grab some popcorn and keep watching the greatest
reality show of all time. And until next time,
I am Peter Joseph, an agent and victim of
a Culture in Decline. Would you like to talk
about the economy?

One thought on “Culture in Decline – Episode #2 – Economics 101

  1. ¿Y en español? Ya han traducido el tercer capítulo por otras vías y está muy bien subtitulado. ¿Y no está aún el segundo?

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